We know it's happening. Apple's made it obvious that new iPads will materialize, in expectedly grand fashion, today, March 2nd. So what do we know about the Second Coming—and what else might pop up at Apple's shindig?
There Will Be iPads
The iPad 2 is a sure thing—Apple's own invitation screams it. So what's going to be so 2 about it? Based on the ever-churning rumor mill, educated guessing, and common sense, we're expecting:
• Two cameras. One on the back for gigant-o photography, and one on the front for FaceTime. Obvious design moves, both, and maybe a chance to switch on a rumored PhotoBooth for iPad, (along with the obvious Camera and FaceTime apps).
• Apple's next-gen A5 (or whatever it'll be called) processor—most likely the multi-core ARM Cortex A9.
• The inclusion of a PowerVR SGX543 graphics chip, giving the iPad 2 a fourfold increase in visual performance.
• A hi-res retina display (or not). This one's tricky. Clues inside iBooks 1.1 and 1.2 revealed mysterious double-resolution (2048x1536) art—perhaps for a beefed up screen on the iPad 2. Conversely, the usually-correct John Gruber's given this rumor the thumbs-down.
Other bits in the rumor heap?
• The WSJ is claiming the iPad 2 will be both thinner and lighter, with 9to5Mac cosigning, publishing spy shots of a leaner display sporting a svelter bezel.
• A dedicated SD slot, which would make the iPad 2 a killer copilot for roving photographers.
• A dual GSM / CDMA chipset, allowing the iPad 2 to cruise both AT&T and Verizon's networks—which makes sense, now that Apple is all hand-holdy with the latter.
• A flatter back—fine with us, as long as it's easy on the hands.
• A bigger, better speaker. Please. The iPad Uno's is pretty dinky.
Two fresh nuggets for this week, only hours from the big moment:
• Boy Genius Report claimed to have an actual shot of the star of the show, but soon backpedaled and admitted it's probably a render. However, it looks to be a very, very good render, and backs everything we're expecting from the iPad 2.
• Nothing's more dubious than a low-res leaked image from China, but 9to5Mac's published an alleged white iPhone front piece—meaning the iPad 2 could come in vanilla. Of course, we have yet to see the white iPhone 4, so take this one with giant salt grains, per usual.
• 9to5Mac is also getting reports that retailers' are quickly running out of original iPads. It's almost... as if.. a new one is almost here? Or something... curious. This does suggest the new batch could be available very soon.
• Last minute rumor alert! More Chinese shots (allegedly) reveal a new tapered design and expanded speaker. Leaked specs courtesy of Amazon Germany also claim a 9.7-inch screen; 1.2GHz dual-core processor and Thunderbolt port—but where the hell would the Thunderbolt go? Unless it's the new dock... we'll find out very, very soon.
There's Something Going on With MobileMe
We're not exactly sure what—nobody is—but 9to5Mac claims the service is no longer for sale in retail form, perhaps clearing the way for an online-only rebirth as a cloud-based "locker" service. Which could be nice, and obviate the way for extra storage on Apple's handheld devices. Although the prospect of trying to access gigs of my photos via AT&T sounds a bit horrific.
Something Is Brewing in England
All aboard the double decker bus to Speculationshire, because the BBC is throwing an event in London at the exact same date and time as the iPad 2 debut, hosted by fanboy actor Stephen Fry. Great opportunity to demo iPad FaceTime, innit?
We'll see! Regardless of how much of the above is pulled up out of the murky depths of speculation and into reality is unclear, but, either way, we're getting new iPads. And you'll read all about it right here.